In geek culture circles, it’s pretty much an established fact that live-action adaptations of our favorite fictional characters are often worse than their counterparts from the source material. Most of the time, the best that any fan can hope for is that the TV or Movie incarnation be faithful or at least respectful to the original. However, sometimes the fates, writers, directors and movie execs all align to the give us characters that are far superior in the live-action adaptation than in the comics. Here are 5 of those times.
In The Comics: Ulysees Klaue or Klaw is as B-list as villains come. Serving as the arch nemesis of Black Panther and the Avengers, Klaw from the comics wears a red and purple skin-tight suit while looking and acting like a rejected villain from a random Saturday morning cartoon. His main gimmick is his vibranium-powered sonic disruptor arm that emits powerful sound waves at enemies, so at least he has that going for him. Also in the comics, at some point Klaw reaches his most powerful state by becoming a being of pure sonic energy so that’s something. But then again, he does get his ass handed to him in this form by Dazzler of all people, so I guess you win some, you lose some.
When you get #Rekt by a mutant Pop Idol, you may want to think about your life choices.
In The Live-Action: The movie version of Klaw is portrayed by the legendary Andy Serkis, who lends his gravitas as well as maniacal glee to the character making for a more nuanced take on the campy villain. This more grounded version of Klaw has been updated into a nefarious smuggler/warlord who has his hand in all sorts of dirty businesses in Africa– not the least of which include black market dealings of the substance known as Vibranium. Klaw’s signature sonic disruptor from the comics also got an updated design in the form of a far cooler-looking arm cannon that opens up from his prosthetic arm. We’ve just got to give this man a hand.
Batroc The Leaper
In The Comics: There are very few characters in the comic book world that are campier and cheesier than the Captain America villain, Batroc the Leaper. In essence, Batroc is 4 things: He’s french; He’s got stereotypical villain facial hair; and he leaps. As a master of the french martial art Savate, Batroc’s leg muscles are so developed that he can leap and bound over great distances. His superpower is leaping. THAT’S IT.
In a world where giant, irradiated gamma monsters, genetically modified super soldiers and straight up gods exists, this man decided to pursue the art of villainy and mercenary work just because he can jump really good. Just let that sink in a bit.
I guess it was better than Sheila the Cartwheeler, but not by much.
In The Live-Action: If you’ve watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you probably remember the badass opening moments of the movie where Captain America infiltrates a ship and almost single-handedly takes down a group of mercenaries led by a character played by former UFC two-division champion Georges St. Pierre. If you pay attention during this whole segment you’ll quickly figure out that GSP is playing none other than our boy Batroc! He’s even wearing the iconic purple and yellow colors from the comics!
This version of Batroc holds his own against good ol’ Steve Rogers as the two have an intense hand-to-hand battle on the ship’s deck. What’s even more interesting is that this Batroc’s fighting style incorporates strikes and moves that involve jumping in the air. LEAPING IF YOU WILL. Batroc assaults Cap in flurry of superman punches, somersaults and triple kicks at one point even gaining the upper hand before he’s handily defeated. It was just a short introductory scene in a much larger movie but in that brief, miraculous moment, we were convinced Batroc The Leaper was actually, really cool.
The Umbrella Academy
In The Comics: The cult-classic Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way (Yes, that Gerard Way) was a cool, stylish, and nonchalantly bizarre take on the super family stereotype. It centered on the titular Umbrella Academy, a group of seven children with extraordinary gifts, adopted and honed by one Sir Reginald Hargreeves. The comics then jump forward in time when the much older members of the Academy reunite at Hargreeves’ funeral, after years of being apart because of their rocky childhood, to save the world from the impending apocalypse. There’s time-travelling killer robots, superhero family drama and an evil sentient Eiffel Tower. You know, the usual stuff.
We weren’t kidding
In The Live-Action: Netflix’s Umbrella Academy loses a lot of the unabashedly weird tone of the original comic, but makes up for it with better character exploration and development. It takes its time in setting up the world and introducing the main characters. Relationships between the various characters are also better fleshed out and explored showing us a fuller picture of these beloved characters without betraying the source material.
All this much-appreciated context and exploration results in but also better characters. Diego is no longer just the edgy, broody vigilante that hates everything, the Netflix series shows a caring, fragile boy underneath that hardened adult exterior. Klaus from the comics was just absurdly deranged relegated to a few panels of comedic relief but in the Netflix version, He is one of the best written and nuanced characters in the show. However, the biggest beneficiary by far of the whole thing is Vanya, who is a key character in the story but confusingly is only shown interacting with the Academy for a handful of panels before major story beats happen. In the Netflix show, Vanya’s side of the story as well as her interactions with her adopted siblings are better shown leading to better, more impactful story beats down the line.
Men In Black
In The Comics: Not a lot of people know that Men in Black was based on a comic book series released in 1990 by written Lowell Cunningham and published through Aircell Comics now Marvel. The comics had the same basic premise as the movies as it followed Agents Jay and Kay as members of the shadowy organisation called the Men in Black in charge of monitoring and policing both extraterrestrial and paranomal activity on the planet. In the comics though, Agents Jay and Kay were largely humorless, no frills G-men and the series carried a dark and bleak tone which was typical of a comicbook series that was made in the 90’s.
In The Movies: Will Smith’s charismatic, fun-loving, down-to-earth portrayal of a rookie Agent Jay offered up a fun contrast to Tommy Lee Jones’s jaded, curmudgeonly Agent Kay. As a result the dynamic of the two largely made for a better movie that was equal parts Action movie, Sci-fi and Comedy. Its hard to think of how disastrously boring it would have been if the movie starred characters that were essentially the same person.
In The Comics: Thanos is consistently one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. For starters, he’s a mutant member of a race of superbeings called the Titanian Eternals. He possesses supernatural strength, speed, endurance, immortality and invulnerability as well as a few nifty powers such as telekinesis and telepathy. On top of all that, all these powers and abilities are all augmented by his mutant-Eternal genes, self-rendered bionic amplification and mysticism. Thanos is also supremely intelligent and possesses a supergenius-level intellect capable of tactical planning, and creation of technologies vastly superior to the human race. He also likes long walks on the beaches of erradicated civilizations and reading poetry.
However, despite all this, Thanos from the comics has one hilarious flaw: He’s madly in love with Death. Not the idea or concept of Death, mind you, the physical manifestation of Death named Mistress Death. How is this a flaw you ask? Well simply because ever since his childhood infatuation with Death, Thanos has devoted every waking moment, every life choice, and every nefarious scheme to just to impress Death. Comics Thanos has engineered the genocide of his home planet, his family, the half of the living beings in existence for this affection of his
fair pale lady. What sucks is, hasn’t been very successful:
If being the only contestant in the galaxy’s most extreme version of The Bachelorette and still losing doesn’t spell L-A-M-E for you. We don’t know what will.
In The Live-Action: It’s pretty safe to say that the Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a far more complex character than the original comicbook villain. In the movies, the whole Death angle is completely dropped from Thanos’ motivations giving him a will and conviction of his own. In Death’s place is an uncomfortable altruism underneath is maniacal schemes. His sinister grand plan of erradicating half of all existence is a motivated by the idea of ensuring life to continue and prosper albeit at a terrible cost.
What’s even more compelling is that this Thanos thinks himself the hero in his story, making the most difficult of choices in order to save all of existence from itself and making life as we know it better. He pushes himself to achieve this goal through unparalleled conviction, knowing that he also can bear the burden. Movie Thanos is such a compelling villain because blurs the line between hero and villain challenging the notion of the greater good, a far cry from the love-struck Thanos from the comics.
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If you liked that check out some of our other superhero related content on the site like 5 Spectacular Superhero Games You Should Play Today, 9 Things You May Have Missed in the Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer! and 6 Burning Questions Before We Watch Avengers: Endgame